Following a thrilling first day of official NHL post-season action, we’re back at it again with some winners in what promises to be another jam-packed day.
To begin, last night’s supposed Game 1 encounter between Carolina & Boston will drop the puck at 11AM EST now, as a result of Tampa vs. Columbus spanning into a casual 5 overtime showdown. Playoff hockey is truly the best.
After that, we will turn our attention to Game 1 in what should be an intense Capitals vs. Islanders series, one that has some very interesting storylines associated with it. After all, it was Isles coach Barry Trotz that led these Caps to the Stanley Cup a few years ago, before being tossed aside for current Washington boss, Todd Reirden. Of course, Trotz has gone on to Long Island, where he’s continued to assert himself as one of the best coaches in hockey.
That is certainly one angle worth monitoring this series. Surely, there’s got to be some bad blood lingering between these camps.
Entering this round, the Caps were a tad lackluster in their round robin, only securing a win in their final match vs. Boston. For a veteran group, it may have taken time for their legs to come back, and timing could’ve been off as well. They also battled injuries as top defenseman John Carlson didn’t suit up. All expectations are that Carlson should return to the lineup for Wednesday afternoon vs. the Islanders.
For the Isles, they proved their mettle once again by easily disposing of the Panthers in the Qualifying Round. While the Isles are not necessarily the top side in terms of skill, they stick to a well-disciplined system and play a heavy-brand of hockey. They are tight defensively and can grind on all four lines. Can that wear down the skilled Caps? Keep reading beneath the odds to find out our take on Game 1 between Washington and New York. Enjoy!
Islanders vs. Capitals Betting Odds:
New York Islanders (+118)
Washington Capitals (-130)
Over 5.5 (+119)
Under 5.5 (-131)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Islanders vs. Capitals Pick:
It will be interesting to see which Washington side shows up to Game 1. When the Caps are on, they remain one of the truly elite squads in the NHL. But when they aren’t, as we saw throughout the round robin, they remain vulnerable.
Washington is a veteran-heavy squad that could start out a tad slow in this series. The Isles are coming off an intense four-game set vs. Florida, and won’t need to shift their mentality or ‘flip the switch’ in order to get-up for the Caps.
Complicating things for Washington is the fact that they will also be without third-line centre Lars Eller in this contest. Eller remains in quarantine following the birth of his baby, as he had to be removed from the bubble. The Danish centre is a huge part of the Caps’ penalty-kill and continues to drive play at even strength.
For the Isles, defense will be their calling card and continued path to success in this series. Already this post-season, we have seen defensively stifling squads control play and territory against supposed offensive superpowers. This series will be yet another example of that.
Expect Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock to be rocks on defense for the Isles, likely shutting down the Caps’ top duo of Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin. Nick Leddy will also play a key role in this one along the Isles’ blue-line.
In Game 1 especially, if the Isles work the Caps’ defense and test John Carlson early – their grinding approach could wear down a Washington team that maybe hasn’t worked themselves up to the rigors of playoff hockey just yet. Look for New York to be able to hang with and limit the Caps at 5v5, and if they stay out of the box and don’t put this lethal Washington power-play to work, they have a shot.
With Trotz getting extra time to prepare for his old team, you have to believe he has a dynamite game-plan all ready to go. The Isles are cohesive and hungry, and while this series still leans toward the skilled Caps, don’t be shocked if New York steals Game 1.
Pick: Isles 3-1